The remarkable South African guitarist Derek Gripper transcribes more music from West Africa’s kora masters for guitar to stunning effect. In his current album, Libraries on Fire, Gripper takes on further works from the great kora maestros; Toumani Diabaté, Ballaké Sissoko and Sekou Batourou Kouyate. Gripper conjures anew a centuries-old ancient African musical heritage, interpreting complex kora compositions (21 string harp) on solo guitar, a feat which classical guitar legend John Williams said he thought was “absolutely impossible until I heard Derek Gripper do it.”
We asked Derek a few questions ahead of the Sydney Guitar Festival and here is what he has to say.
Guitarist that inspired me to learn to play
Strangely it was Sting and Jack Bruce that got me playing bass guitar, then my guitar teacher Mike Hoole. Only later I realised other people played guitar but for a long time it was the thrill of finding written music and getting it to sound like guitar music.
How many guitars I own & my personal fave
I have only one guitar, a Herman Hauser III. It is made from a piece of 100 year old German spruce, the same piece as was used to make Segovia’s legendary instrument from the 30’s which is kind of a nice bit of history.
Most under rated guitarist in music & why?
I don’t follow guitarists much.
what other acts are you planning to see play during the fest?
The Sydney Guitar Festival invites you to take part in the World Record attempt for the Largest Guitar Ensemble playing AC/DC’s Highway To Hell at The Concourse in Chatswood on Sunday, August 12!
Tickets for all Sydney Guitar Festival events are on sale now.
For more information regarding lineup, tickets, venues and more visit
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